Undergraduate BA (Hons)

BA (Hons) Archaeological Practice (2 year degree)

School of Environment & Life Sciences



Two year


September 2019

Next enrolment

In a nutshell

Whilst covering the same content as a traditional three year undergraduate degree, the Archaeological Practice degree is taught over three trimesters rather than two semesters, utilising your summers for fieldwork. This more intense mode of study means that you can complete your degree in a shorter period of time, therefore allowing you to progress more quickly into work or further study.

You will be taught by expert archaeologists from Salford Archaeology (a Chartered Institute for Archaeologists Registered Archaeological Organisation) and heritage management professionals from the Greater Manchester Archaeological Advisory Service, ensuring degree content is relevant to the current archaeological sector.

As each module has been designed with your employability in mind there is an emphasis on practical learning throughout the degree with lectures backed up by regular applied hands-on experiences, both in the lab and the field. Ensuring your learning remains contemporary and relevant is essential and you will be taken on frequent external visits to commercially active archaeological sites throughout this course with supporting lectures from external industry specialists.

The core fieldwork component is undertaken during an intensive five week summer residential field school, where you will enhance your practical skills in onsite excavation and will include photography, illustration, artefact handling, geophysical survey, topographic survey and 3D Laser Scanning.  

If you want an accelerated, highly practical, industry-focused degree, which will equip you with the skills for entrance into professional archaeology then this is the degree for you.

You will:
  • Gain real-world experience during the intensive five week summer residential field school
  • Explore the relationship between the wider landscape and environment, and the human societies that inhabited them
  • Enjoy regular hands-on experiences, both in the lab and in the field

This is for you if...


You want to complete a degree and enter the growing job market in two years rather than three


You have a passion for fieldwork and want to gain relevant industry experience


You want to work with heritage companies and agencies

Course details

All about the course

Year one provides a solid foundation across the breadth of the subject, through regular lectures, workshops, seminars, field trips and laboratory work we will introduce you to the concepts and principles of archaeology, building up your knowledge base and providing you with the skills to undertake the intensive 5 week residential field course module in the summer. The second year will build on the practical skills you have learnt, focusing upon developing your knowledge, understanding and critical analysis of the subject material through a range of inter connecting modules. Ultimately providing you with the appropriate skills and experiences necessary for employment within the current archaeological or heritage sectors.

Year one

Academic Skills Tutorial

You will take a weekly one hour tutorial with a member of academic staff in a group of 6-8 students. The module develops your academic skills and helps you develop your personal and professional skills for study and for work in industry. You will work on a range of archaeological management problems linked to the core first year modules. The tutorials involve discussion, debate, and problem-solving, and provide you with a regular forum for monitoring your progress.      

Field Course and Applied Skills

The first part of this module provides you with the applied skills to manage and analyse data using descriptive statistics, inference, graphs, hypothesis testing, and correlation and regression. It also introduces information searching and retrieving skills, data presentation and report writing. The second part of the module involves a residential field course in the UK where you will collect, analyse and present data to put into practice what you have learned.      

Archaeological Principles and Practice

Designed as an introduction to the discipline, with a focus on the key principles and practices of archaeology. You will be taken through the process of archaeological fieldwork from locating and interpreting sites, to the exploration of sites through geophysical and other survey methods, through to excavation and post-excavation processing and archiving of finds and ultimate final analysis. With a focus on preparing you for the fieldwork intensive modules in the summer.You will:        

  • Develop familiarity with current industry based equipment, methodologies, and techniques, including the processing and interpretation of data in archaeology          
  • Undertake regular practical hands-on workshops and attend demonstrations and lectures from industry professionals in their specialist areas of expertise          
  • Visit a range of active commercial archaeological sites   

Artefacts and Interpretations

A lab based, hands on module that will introduce you to a range of artefacts and materials ranging from prehistoric to modern in date. You will learn how to identify, date and record artefacts from archaeological sites, whilst also developing knowledge in finds conservation and curatorship. The course will help you to develop a variety of skills including:        

  • Finds processing skills including washing, handling, storing, cataloging and recording artefact assemblages          
  • Analytical skills involving the study of a wide range of materials and artefacts from different periods and regions in the UK          
  • Practical skills including how to draw artefacts to publication standard and finds photography       

The Roman Empire

This module introduces you to the archaeology of the Roman Empire from the 1st to the 5th centuries AD. The emphasis is on the way in which the western Empire functioned and Britain’s place within that structure. This will include studies on the army, frontier development, transport infrastructure, trade, town and country, death and burial, architecture and engineering, and the exploitation of natural resources. The module will look at excavations and buildings case studies, as well as palaeo-environmental work and contemporary relevant texts such as the Vindolanda tablets’.  

The Archaeology of the British Isles

This module provides a period-by-period introduction to British archaeology.   Starting with the origins of archaeology as a subject and its fundamental concepts and issues, the module looks at the material evidence for our earliest ancestors through to later Prehistory, the early historic periods, the medieval, the post-medieval, the industrial revolution and the archaeology of the last 300 years. This module will provide you with:        

  • A working knowledge of the periods and the variety of archaeology you are expected to handle when working in Britain as a professional archaeologist          
  • Familiarity with key sites, regional patterning in archaeological evidence, as well as current thinking and debates about the past          
  • Fieldtrips exploring the urban environments of Manchester and the rural environments of the Peak District      

Non-intrusive and Intrusive Fieldwork Techniques (SUmmer Field Course)

This module is the core of the degree. An external field school within the UK held during the summer at the end of your first year will be an excellent opportunity for you to put into practice all the skills you have learnt. Run like a commercial archaeological project by professional field archaeologists from Salford Archaeology you will undertake a full range of techniques on a live research project, including:        

  • Using GPS, total stations for topographic survey, 3D Laser scanning and geophysical survey instruments          
  • Developing the various excavation skills, finds retrieval, environmental sampling, site photography, technical drawing and recording          
  • Commercial site working practices such as site etiquette, health and safety, and safely working around and with excavation machines          
  • Your assessment will be a portfolio of your onsite work undertaken during the field school         
Year two

The Prehistory of Atlantic Europe

This module explores the character of Britain’s relationships with our neighbours along the Atlantic coastline during Prehistory. At a point in history when our relationships with Europe are being redefined, this module explores the prehistoric archaeology of that relationship.  Whilst physically isolating us from the continent, the insularisation of Britain by rising postglacial sea-levels became the context within which the dynamics of insularity were repeatedly exposed to varied contacts and interactions. Through a series of case studies drawn from different periods, from the later Mesolithic to the Iron Age, the module will look at how the prehistory of insularity and interaction shaped prehistoric Britain.     

Heritage Protection and Management

This module will give an overview of current professional practice in managing the historic environment. Set within the current legislative and planning framework of the UK the role of planning and archaeology will be studied, along with the needs and requirements of industry and archaeologists.

Geographical Information Systems

The aim of this module is to develop your knowledge and understanding of the factors controlling the design, and implementation of GIS solutions to map, monitor and model terrestrial environments. You will also examine the major issues and impacts of GIS evolution and diffusion on society.  

Understanding Historic Buildings

Not all archaeology is below ground. This module will explore historic buildings within the UK throughout the ages. Providing you with an appreciation for the differing fabrics and techniques of construction whilst introducing you to the analytical process of investigating, recording and assessing the significance of historic buildings. Using traditional and modern techniques you will:        

  • Be introduced to the different specialist skills required for the recording and analysis of historic buildings          
  • Explore historic buildings within the context of current heritage and conservation practice          
  • Be introduced to the practical skills of surveying, recording, photography and technical report writing     

Archaeology and the Public

This module is designed to introduce you to how archaeology relates within the wider public environment; how it is communicated, represented and utilised across the world. Exploring the different methods of and allowing you to critically explore the key debates within the area. As part of the module you will:        

  • Critically explore the development and delivery of community and volunteer based archaeology          
  • Develop an understanding of the range and variety of dissemination methodologies          
  • Explore differing global political, economic and social perspectives          
  • Consider a wide range of moral and ethical issues within the wider heritage environment    

Archaeology of Industrialisation

A significant amount of UK commercial archaeology deals with more recent material. This course will explore the landscape archaeology of industrialisation in Britain during the period 1600-1900 and will cover the transition from a rural, agriculturally-based, society to an urban, manufacturing-based, society and the consequent landscape changes as reflected in the archaeological record. It will explore how archaeologists not only record this evidence, typically through commercially funded work, but also use it to help understand the origins and course of the Industrial Revolution and its global consequences and is supported by field trips to key sites.The course is structured around the key elements of industrialisation:        

  • Power and mineral resources exploitation          
  • Manufacturing industries          
  • Transport systems and distribution          
  • Changing working and living conditions    

Adaption to Industry (Project-based dissertation work module) (Archaeology)

Undertaken during the summer of the second year the project based work module is undertaken by you within your specific area of interest. You will work with your module leader to develop the project, which will include you undertaking fieldwork and or data collection. Utilising and enhancing the skills you have learnt throughout your degree you will present your project in a format compatible with current industry practices and requirements.  Providing you the opportunity to undertake and demonstrate your own research whilst contributing to our understanding of the past with a unique piece of work.

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

What will I be doing?


Teaching is through a combination of lectures, fieldwork, practical classes, tutorials, group work, computer-based learning and guided independent learning in the form of assignments and project work. 


Assessments will be based on a combination of examination and continuous assessment. This will include field reports, reflective diaries, essays, problem-solving exercises, data analysis, seminars, and research projects, and will involve a mixture of group and individual work.

School overvoew

Our School is renowned for the quality of its teaching and research, and is supported by over 80 academic staff at the forefront of their specialisms. Our expanding suite of programmes covers geography and environmental management (GEM), wildlife, biology, chemistry, disease ecology and biomedical science. We work closely with our partners to ensure course content develops the skills that employers are looking for.

We have recently been presented with a ‘Bronze Award’ from the Equality Challenge Unit’s (ECU) Athena SWAN Charter for its commitment to gender equality.

If you are looking for a vibrant, welcoming and highly professional environment in which you can realise your potential, the School of Environment & Life Sciences at the University of Salford offers you a world of opportunities.


Centre for Applied Archaeology

The Centre for Applied Archaeology has unrivalled access to a wide range of skills from planning and surveying, to conservation and 3D visualisation.

Our professional seminars and postgraduate archaeology courses have an emphasis on industrial archaeology and the built environment to maximise this access to specialist expertise and resource.

The Centre undertakes work in three areas:

  • Teaching and research, especially within industrial archaeology and the built environment
  • Promoting and providing research access to heritage and community archaeology
  • Archaeological consultancy work and professional development courses

We have a number of community archaeology projects engaging the local and wider community in their heritage and an established project undertaking research on landscape in the Trent Valley spanning multiple years. Follow our work with the University of Salford archaeology blog.

Dig Greater Manchester

Our "Dig Greater Manchester project" gives local communities the opportunity to get involved in their own history and heritage, with residents getting 'hands on' experience of an archaeological excavation. Over 6,000 local people across Greater Manchester will get involved, ranging from absolute beginners and school children, to experienced archaeology volunteers.

Find out more about the locations and the project and follow the excavations on the Dig Greater Manchester blog.

Employment and stats

What about after uni?

This course has been designed to provide you with a unique understanding of both archaeology and the current needs and practices of the archaeological commercial industry. Having this insight and gaining real world practical skills you will develop a range of personal and professional abilities making you highly employable within the archaeological and heritage sectors.

These include regular visits to commercial archaeological sites, use of the latest technology, field experience (including excavation and surveying), artefact handling and analysis, report writing, presentation, the ability to interpret data and the application of IT, group work and the development of team working and project management skills.

Archaeology graduates can expect to find career paths into professional archaeology companies and charities, environmental and construction consultancies, local authority based heritage planning, museums, conservation, construction and further higher education.

A taste of what you could become

An archaeologist

A conservator

A heritage manager

A conservation officer

A museum curator

And more...

Career Links

Links with industry

You will work with professionals involved in archaeology and heritage protection and public engagement and with a company involved in providing digital mapping. Experiences such as these will allow you to develop many of the key skills sought by employers and experience practical real-world placement experience that will give you an insight into the world of work.


What you need to know

Applicant profile

If you want an intensive two-year, highly practical, industry focused degree which will equip you with the skills for entrance into professional archaeology then this is the degree for you.

We want students to apply who are interested in archaeology and heritage and have a real passion for fieldwork.

We would welcome all students who are interested in archaeology and heritage particularly those who want to enter the archaeological profession. You do not have to have an A level in archaeology but one in a related subject, such as geography or history would be beneficial.

We also welcome those returning to education who are looking to retrain and gain a career in the archaeology or heritage sectors, either with Access qualifications or by taking the foundation year.

English language requirements

International applicants will be required to show a proficiency in English. An IELTS score of 6.5 (with no element below 5.5) is proof of this. If you need to improve your written and spoken English, you might be interested in our English language courses.

Standard entry requirements


English language and mathematics at grade C or 4 or above.

You must fulfil our GCSE entry requirements as well as one of the requirements listed below.

UCAS tariff points

120 points History, Archaeology or Geography preferred but not essential

GCE A level

120 points History, Archaeology or Geography preferred but not essential

BTEC National Diploma


Scottish Highers

120 points

Irish Leaving Certificate

120 points from Higher Level

European Baccalaureate

Pass in Diploma of at least 60% including at least 1 science subject

International Baccalaureate

30 points

Access to Higher Education

Pass QAA approved access programme in Science or Health & Social Care

Alternative entry requirements

Salford Alternative Entry Scheme (SAES)

We welcome applications from students who may not meet the stated entry criteria but who can demonstrate their ability to pursue the course successfully. Once we have received your application we will assess it and recommend it for SAES if you are an eligible candidate.

There are two different routes through the Salford Alternative Entry Scheme and applicants will be directed to the one appropriate for their course. Assessment will either be through a review of prior learning or through a formal test.

How much?

Type of study Year Fees
Full-time home/EU 2019 £9,250per year
Full-time international 2019 £14,820per year
Part-time 2019 Your annual fee will be calculated pro rata to the full-time fee according to the number of credits you are studying.
Additional costs

All field trips are funded by the school but you may need to consider additional costs such as food and spending money. 

Further costs may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

Apply now

All set? Let's apply

Enrolment dates

September 2019

September 2020

UCAS information

Course ID V460

Institution S03